by David Sisler

You remember how it was Monday morning (that is, if you lived in Augusta, GA, or thereabouts, on Monday, January 17, 2000). While driving to work a few of those rain drops were really heavy, and you thought, "Boy, if it gets a little colder, we could be in for something." The folks above the Mason-Dixon Line (the historical dividing line between the North and the South) may not have noticed such a small accumulation, but it was big news here.

Actually, I was born and raised a few miles south of the Mason-Dixon line, but high atop the Allegheny Mountains, where the snowfall was measured in feet, not inches. The snow started in early November and lasted until late March or early April. I did not walk to school several miles in the snow uphill both ways carrying my little brother, although Dad said he did carry Aunt Maudie to school in the snow. When it started snowing, we just adapted. A foot of snow closed things down, but a few inches went unnoticed.

Dad would call the tire dealer around the middle of October and order a pair of "saw-dust retreads," snow tires that seemed perfectly adapted to winters in Garrett County, Maryland. Most drivers kept a set of snow chains in the trunk, along with a small shovel and a bucket of sand, just in case.

One year, I think I was in the fifth grade at Loch Lynn Elementary School, snow came early. We were driving into Oakland when Dad said, "There is someone who was caught with his pants down."

I looked out the window expecting to see someone who was suffering from real "southern exposure." All I saw was a car pulled onto the shoulder of the road, it's rear end jacked up and the driver trying to install a set of chains.

It was not unusual for school to be cancelled during the winter, and extra days were always built into the calendar. If it was a particularly hard winter, we might have to stay in school for a few extra days in June. One time we had classes four Saturdays in a row to make up for the lost time. Those "snow days" usually saw several of us sled riding down Tuscawala Street. If there were enough kids, we'd station someone at the corner of Shenandoah Avenue and another look-out at Roanoke Avenue and slide down the entire hill. Otherwise, it was the shorter ride down by the house. When one set of clothes became soaked from the snow, we would make a quick dash inside for a warm, dry set, and hit the road again.

Across the road, Mr. Simmons would set up snow fences in his pasture and we would make snow forts and tunnels in the drifts. Speaking of snow drifts in Garrett County, one winter, Route 219 (still the north-south thoroughfare between Oakland and the Pennsylvania line) supported only one lane traffic. State police officers controlled the two ends, causing a further slow down in travel.

When I took my driving test in December 1963, I was excused from parking 12 inches out from the curb. The snow was piled 18 inches out. The kids who took their test the next week did not have to park at all; there was simply too much snow.

I tell you all of this so that you will understand why Monday's flurries did not cause me to become very excited. Add in the fact that I have visited Russia in January, and the picture of complacency concerning a few white flakes is complete.

Not so the folks with whom I work.

Cathy, a young grandmother, is a native of south Georgia. When it started snowing Monday, she danced like a kid at Christmas. It was the first time she said, she had ever seen it snow. The sophisticate that I am, I smiled indulgently when she went outside, scooped snow off of a car windshield and tossed a snow ball across the parking lot. Then she went out back and built three miniature snowmen. I teased her with gracious (I trust) good humor.

Nana was not much better. She claimed that her enthusiasm was because her three year old son, Brandon, would be able to play in his first snow. But she went outside in it several times, too.

Stephen and I smiled knowingly. Grown men do not frolic so!

Several hours later now, sitting here typing, pausing long enough to look for "the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow," searching for the "luster of mid-day to the objects below," I think about the things which are so very special like snow and about which we have become so complacent. Do we take anything, no, anyone, more for granted than Jesus?


Published in The Augusta Chronicle 1/29/2000

Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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